“If you worried about my age, it was unnecessary,” she said.
Ginsburg is now 86 and entering her 27th year on the court. She and the Clintons reminisced about the old days at an annual lecture named for her.
Bill Clinton repeated that he knew within 10 minutes of interviewing then-Judge Ginsburg that he would offer her the job, although his first choice was New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
He said she was serious about judging and laid out her views clearly. “I thought, this woman is completely on the level,” Clinton said.
Later, it was conceded that the serious Ginsburg also has a sense of humor. “It’s essential to the job,” she said.
Hillary Clinton said she liked to think she had something to do with Ginsburg’s nomination as well. “I may have expressed an opinion or two about people he should move up” the list of possibilities, she said.
The three were interviewed by Georgetown professors Wendy Williams and Mary Hartnett, who are working on a biography of Ginsburg. They said that Ginsburg had told them not to make the evening all about her, and the Clintons seemed happy to oblige.
Bill Clinton praised Ginsburg’s writing: “Every time I read one of her opinions, I’m thrilled by it.” He mentioned her dissent in Bush v. Gore, which he called one of the court’s “10 worst” opinions. And he was down on the court’s recent decision that federal courts have no role in policing partisan gerrymandering by states.
He noted the dissent in that case was written by Justice Elena Kagan, who was nominated by President Barack Obama but got her “start” in Clinton’s administration.
Hillary Clinton used the comments about Ginsburg’s age to complain about President Trump’s record-breaking number of federal judges “being pushed through despite having no relevant experience.”
Although she did not mention Trump by name or any of the nominees she found objectionable, she said longevity and ideology were the most important characteristics of the nominees, and that lawyers and academics should be more active in opposing them.
In lighter moments, Hillary Clinton said she had given her husband and others copies of the book written by Ginsburg’s trainer Bryant Johnson. “It was a problem” completing the “RBG workout,” Bill Clinton said. “It was a real struggle.”
Hillary Clinton said she completed the workout as well, “but without cameras” to record the event.
Asked which team they favored in the World Series, Bill Clinton said he was for the Washington Nationals. But he said the others probably couldn’t answer. Ginsburg, he said, had to maintain her “veneer of impartiality.”
Hillary Clinton, he said, couldn’t take sides, because she might still run for something someday.